People Make the Difference: Explore a Year of Impact

Everyone should have the chance to make a difference – wouldn’t you agree?

That’s why VolunteerMatch makes it easier for people to connect with the causes they care about.

Explore the 2013 VolunteerMatch Annual Impact Report

To take a look at how far we have come, it is a pleasure to share with you VolunteerMatch’s Annual Impact Report – a graphic look at people and causes, like your organization, who are making a difference.

Last year was an important time for us: we re-launched www.VolunteerMatch.org with a one-of-a-kind recommendations engine, overhauled our workplace group management services, ventured onto your mobile phone, and pushed our entire technical infrastructure into the cloud.

And it worked. The improvements helped us power almost a billion dollars’ worth of volunteer service in 2013. And together, we can do even more.

Don’t worry, we’ll dive into each of the sections of this awesome infographic in detail, but for now, enjoy exploring the impact we made together last year – and join in as we create impact in 2014 that exceeds all expectations.

Click here to explore the 2013 VolunteerMatch Annual Impact Report!

Welcome to Our New Communications & Social Media Intern

Hey everyone! My name is Tori Fukumitsu, I am the new Communications & Social Media intern at VolunteerMatch, and I am very excited to join the Online Communications team and the VolunteerMatch family.

I currently attend Hamilton College in Clinton, NY where I am a Junior and an English major with a Japanese minor. At Hamilton, I have had the privilege to meet so many great people from diverse backgrounds who are extremely driven and love learning, and I can’t wait to build similar relationships at VolunteerMatch. My studies have helped cultivate my written and verbal skills which I am very eager to apply to the internship at VM.

Outside of the classroom I am involved in a number of activities. After two semesters of tutoring local elementary school students in an underserved school district through America Reads, I took on a larger role this past semester as a site coordinator for HAVOC, Hamilton’s largest volunteer and outreach club. I led students on weekly trips to a local homeless and hunger shelter called Rescue Mission of Utica where we lent a helping hand to their food service program.

In addition to my volunteer work, I hold two on-campus jobs, am a member of the Hamilton College Orchestra, and captain three intramural sports. In my spare time I enjoy playing acoustic guitar, watching hockey, hiking, and listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Back at home in the Bay Area, I have had the pleasure of applying my passion for giving back to my community in various volunteer opportunities. Last summer, I volunteered with the nutrition program at Kimochi, a Japanese nonprofit in San Francisco, and embodied its mission of the younger generation helping the older generation by serving lunch twice a week to over two hundred senior citizens. My time at Kimochi inspired me to learn more about my Japanese heritage, and led me to decide to study abroad in Tokyo this April.

I also spent the summer as a research assistant for a Stanford graduate student’s Ph.D project on mixed race high school youth, and had a very enlightening experience. Additionally, I serve as an assistant editor for the Sierra Club of San Francisco’s online publication, the Yodeler, spreading the word about the Club’s stance on legislative measures and environmental concerns.

These experiences and the skills I have developed led me to this internship at VolunteerMatch, and I believe it will be a great fit on both sides. Much as I anticipate a career in a business setting, I am very passionate about volunteering, and am excited for this opportunity where those two spheres coexist.

As a Communications & Social Media intern, I will be engaging the public, spreading the word not only about VolunteerMatch’s service to the world, but also the importance of volunteering and supporting our communities. And what better way to do so than at the intersection of volunteers, nonprofits, and business leaders.

I will be on this blog a lot in the coming months, and I am really looking forward to meeting you all!

Celebrating Our Roots (and You)

Explore the roots of the Web's largest volunteer engagement networkLast week while browsing around the Web, I discovered that today, December 23rd, is a little known holiday called “Roots Day,” when we celebrate everything and everyone that has made us who we are. (Today is also Festivus, but that’s another blog post entirely.)

It makes sense, during such a family-oriented time of year, to be thinking about our roots. So in honor of the holiday season, and to honor the core of the VolunteerMatch network (YOU!) let’s take a look at some milestones from the early days:

April 20, 1998: VolunteerMatch.org launches as a stand-alone Web service.

VolunteerMatch.org launched on April 20, 1998.

You can hardly recognize us!

April 26, 1998: VolunteerMatch celebrates its 1,000th online connection between volunteers and nonprofits.

February 9, 1999: The Gap, Inc. becomes the first corporate client to actively promote use of VolunteerMatch to its employees.

December 8, 1999: Oprah Winfrey promotes VolunteerMatch on her show, igniting the busiest day in VolunteerMatch history (December 9, 1999.)

July 18, 2001: VolunteerMatch receives two Webby Awards for Activism and Service.

VolunteerMatch won 2 Webby Awards in 2001.

Confirming that we are, in fact, huge geeks.

September 11, 2001: The 9/11 tragedy triggers a national surge in volunteer interest and VolunteerMatch usage.

January 9, 2003: VolunteerMatch celebrates its 1,000,000th connection between volunteers and nonprofits.

Early 2004: VolunteerMatch launches the Community Leader Premium Service program to expand nonprofit services and strengthen long-term financial model.

Happy Holidays from our team at VolunteerMatch to your organization, your community and your volunteers!

Now, ten years later, VolunteerMatch has connected close to 7.5 million volunteers with nonprofits, and gets more than 11 million visits per year to VolunteerMatch.org.

We are so proud of what we’ve accomplished since that fateful day in 1998, but mainly we’re proud of the 96,000+ nonprofits that work hard each day and use VolunteerMatch to help change the world.

Happy Holidays to you, your communities, and your volunteers!

When It Comes To Volunteering I Rarely Think: Why Am I Doing This?

Hello VounteerMatch community! My name is Rana Ayed and I will be a Communications and Social Media intern at VolunteerMatch for the coming few months. I am a Palestinian woman from Jerusalem. I was raised a humanist and social activist. My family, education and professional work experience provided the seeds for my evolving work ethic, sense of local and global civic responsibility and the limitlessness of my potential.

I moved to San Francisco Spring 2011 and completed my Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Golden Gate University in May 2013. I aspire to harness my skills as a bilingual Social Marketer to explore new online communities for VolunteerMatch.

When I think about volunteering, I rarely think: why am I doing this? More often I think: why are other people not doing this? As a Social Marketer I am invested in the well-being of the communities I am part of and others I have yet to meet. For me, volunteering is about social equity and self-determination, more than committing a number of hours. It is more about being an example of the good cause I believe in.

From involving more than 150 Palestinian and International organizations to prioritize local products within their procurement policy, to introducing the first olive tapenade brand made by women cooperatives in villages, I am passionate about returning economic agency to local stakeholders.

I am especially interested in two areas, women’s health equity and youth physical activity. As a youth I was part of an Italian initiative in Palestinian refugee camps that established a women’s basketball team as a growth opportunity and social skills development for young women at the camp.

I am currently volunteering as a digital marketer for the Nurse-Midwives Department at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). Focusing on the empowerment that emerges from the values and practice of midwifery we aim to increase awareness of the benefits of midwifery care at SFGH during pregnancy and birth as a vehicle for increasing the number of women cared for by Nurse-Midwives.

It is the nuanced interactions with a mother who presses olive oil or the satisfaction of addressing the social media marketing needs of nonprofit organizations through this internship with VolunteerMatch that compels me to cultivate reciprocal, transnational relationships through digital marketing.

I am excited to learn from the diverse team of experts at VolunteerMatch and the online community of volunteers, nonprofits, and companies who are invested in the collective well-being of the society, that allows us to fulfill our dreams in a global and cross-cultural setting.

Exploring Our Impact: The Fascinating Economics of the VolunteerMatch Network

With the release this summer of the 2012 VolunteerMatch Impact Report, we’re taking a closer look at some of the most important outcomes of our work in 2012. Read the whole series here.

Measuring the economics of the VolunteerMatch network.

What does it mean to be the Web’s largest volunteer engagement network? For the VolunteerMatch team, it means keeping a laser focus on making it easier for everyone to make a difference. Lots of people are surprised that this “big tent” approach goes well beyond volunteers and nonprofits — it also means developing tools to help government programs, well-known brands, campuses and businesses of all kinds to build their volunteer engagement success on top of the VolunteerMatch network.

Over the years VolunteerMatch has developed a rich and diverse set of products and services that go beyond our award-winning site, VolunteerMatch.org.  These include enterprise-level APIs, hosted platforms for employee and consumer volunteer programs from partners, and consulting services for businesses and organizations that are ready to take their programs to the next level but aren’t quite sure how.

What all these efforts have in common is that they provide millions of people, programs and organizations with free or affordable access to the VolunteerMatch network — and they really do work. Not surprisingly, as access has grown, so too has the scale of our impact.

Measuring Our Growing Scale

Every mentor, community gardener, volunteer librarian, or graphic designer who uses VolunteerMatch is woven into the fabric of the network – and more volunteers use VolunteerMatch than any other service in the nation.

In 2011 VolunteerMatch facilitated some 622,000  connections between prospective volunteers and great organizations, the most ever. A year later, thanks to some big improvements to our system and significantly more visitors, we increased our overall connections by more than 20% — to 788,000, or about 1.5 new connections every single minute. (You can see this activity live for yourself here.)

Valuing the Volunteer Experience

Taking into account the likelihood that a new connection will result in an actual volunteer experience, the depth and duration of the experience, and the average value of a volunteer’s time, each of those connections will eventually produce $3,158 worth of support for the organizations that use VolunteerMatch – an increase of $83 compared to last year.

Even experts in volunteering are often blown away when we share this number, but we have lots of reasons for believing it to be true. In an article last year about the comparable value of volunteers recruited from VolunteerMatch we explored in detail the complex economics of volunteer recruitment. I don’t have space here to reproduce it all in detail, but I invite you to check it out for yourself.

But two factors from the equation really stand out.

  1. Volunteers serve five hours each month with nonprofits they find at VolunteerMatch.
  2. The typical commitment lasts 2.5 years.

Of course, these are averages. Some folks help out for a single night at a gala event. Others come in twice a week for whole days at a time. Still others — often times with support from their employers — work diligently on research projects for three or six months at a stretch.

In my own family, my mom has been volunteering at a public school serving Tucson, Arizona’s Native American reservation community for more than eight years now. And if you look around, you’ll start to see many others with longtime commitments to specific causes and favorite organizations. Through this lens, it’s easy to begin to see how VolunteerMatch is able to help generate more than $85,000 in comparable social value for organizations every single hour. 

Stay tuned for more analysis of this year’s VolunteerMatch Impact Report. And in the meantime, how about you? We’d love to hear the value of your volunteering for the causes you love best.